His Eminence, Cardinal George Pell, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, recently wrote on the comparison between political presidents and respected hereditary monarchs.
His position on the question of Australian becoming some form of politicians' republic became well known when he was nominated by the then Prime Minister, John Howard, as a delegate to the 1998 Constitutional Convention.
Contrary to the myth that some republicans have spread, John Howard did not manipulate the membership of the convention, just as he did not manipulate the question.
In fact the majority of nominated delegates were republican, and Dr Pell was no exception. The overwhelming majority of nominated ex- officio delegates – such as premiers and ,opposition leaders – were also republican. The nominated delgates made up one half of the membership of the convention.
In moving approval of the republican model developed by the Australian Republican Movement, he praised the constitutional monarchist delegates.
“Yesterday the monarchists voted with discipline, integrity and honour. Lloyd Waddy (ACM National Convenor) was the very model of a modern major general. They did not vote tactically. Their virtue brought its own reward. Republican disarray yesterday was our own doing. The republicans know well that to divide is to rule even when the division is self-inflicted.”
(When His Eminence said the monarchists did not vote tactically, he meant that they did not use their numbers to ensure the least popular model would be the one chosen by the Convention for the referendum. Although the monarchists had announced they would not do this, Mr. Turnbull and the ARM continued to fear that this might happen.)
But notwithstanding the fact that he agreed to move the motion that the Convention approve the ARM model, when he was later appointed to Sydney,an extraordinary thing happened.
The then ARM leader Greg Barns denounced him in no uncertain terms in the media, declaring that he was not welcome in the city.
More recently, on 6 February, 2012, Dr Pell delivered the homily on The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in Sydney’s St. James Anglican Church where he said:
“In our Judaeo-Christian tradition Saul was anointed King of the Israelite federation by Samuel the priest more than 1000 years before Christ. Roman Emperors and Christian Kings continued this monarchical tradition everywhere until the French revolutions from 1789, the communist revolution in Russia in 1917 and two world Wars reduced the number of monarchies in the old world. In the new world of the Americas they too followed other paths, except for Canada.
“But these thousands of years of monarchical history explain why the position of kings and queens, even more than the concept of bishop, is embedded in the Western psyche. That such an ancient and evocative institution also serves our nation’s practical purposes well helps explain the reindorsement of the role of the British monarchy in Australian life in the referendum of 1999.
"It was also an expression of the respect and affection Australians have for the Queen personally. "Any new system needs to be better."
….respected hereditary monarch…
Now, in his regular column in Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph on 12 August 2012 after a European visit on the Italian financial situation (“ Too much debt is a certain road to national misery”) he observed:“It was interesting, as a supporter of the republic, to hear one Italian family longing for a respected hereditary monarch like England's rather than a political president, whom they see as a communist.”